Tove Lo on gender inequality in music: 'Nobody questions a man singing about these things'

Wendy Geller
Senior Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum, 2 billion-streaming artist Tove Lo stopped by AOL’s Build Series in New York City to discuss her latest album, Blue Lips. The highly anticipated set, which comprises the final phase of her “Lady Wood Era” trilogy, continues a unique thematic journey through the stages of a relationship, all delivered with unedited honesty.

Indeed, it’s that honesty that initially gained her body of work so much attention. The singer is known for being frank about her sexuality and sexual health in general. She declared in an interview with NME earlier this month, “We just need to stop judging anyone who is an openly sexual and happy person.” However, she says that she feels by now she has passed the point of mere shock value with her confessional and sometimes explicit lyrics.

“I think that if it’s the first time, if you’re just discovering my music, people are like ‘what the f***? What is she doing?’ But if you know me and you know my music, you don’t get shocked — you just hopefully get excited!”

Still, she admits that there is a divide between how female and male artists are perceived when discussing such subjects in their music.

“There’s definitely a difference,” she says. “I find myself kind of defending myself right now, like why do I have to explain myself about this? Because nobody questions a man singing about those kinds of things. Nobody asks those questions to a male artist.

“I do check in with my male artist friends,” she muses. “Like, ‘Here’s some questions that I got today, do you ever get these?’ And they’re like, ‘No.'”

“I don’t mind getting the questions. I don’t mind explaining a little bit about why I write and express myself the way I do. But I like it more when it’s more curiosity than accusation, if that makes sense.”

Lo went on to relate that, although she had a comfortable upbringing and didn’t want for anything, she was always seeking something more. This led to her being drawn to music with an honest or confessional angle. “The music I connected to growing up were the songs that were telling the truth. And it didn’t mean it had to be sad or dark. It would have a meaning to it that wasn’t edited or altered to not upset people, or adapt to as many people as possible.

“I think there’s a need for that, because we can polish and fix and filter everything.”